Thoughts on consent and second chances

So a post by thehypnobunny (not tagged purposefully) has been going around, with a sad update on issues she dealt with a while ago on consent things. It gave me thoughts I felt would be best laid out separately, as she doesn’t need to deal with these on that post.

1) handling consent issues is hard. At some point, if you’re in a position where you handle them, you will have to make a choice. Do you want to be “fair” to people who have hurt others (intentionally or not), or do you want to be sure people who have been hurt feel safe at your event/in your community? If you don’t make that decision in the abstract, without an active issue, it will be made by your decisions within an issue.

2) when we let people who have committed consent violations (or abuse, etc) back to our events/into our community, we also need to have a way of working with those they hurt to be sure those people feel safe. I don’t know how to do this. I wish I did.

3) some incidents are ones a person can learn from, and others are ones where it shouldn’t matter. The scale of harm should effect how willing we are to welcome someone back. I don’t know where the line is on never letting someone back. It’s somewhere, though.

4) we as a community – both kink in general and hypnokink in specific – don’t have the structures/systems in place to be able to handle these issues well. We need serious meta-discussions on how to make sure leaders at all levels are equipped to deal with this, because right now many are not.

This stuff is hard, but we need to cope with it. Because, as a friend of mine outside of kink wrote recently, “redemption only comes after punishment and repentance, and forgiveness without consequence only leads people further into darkness, leaving victims the only ones punished.” This is not universally true – honest mistakes, say, do happen, and those should be handled differently – but too many people who choose to do harm are good at portraying sincere remorse/regret when they don’t feel it at all.

I just wish I had more answers than I do.

It’s such a difficult thing, and there needs to be some sort of discussion about it. I always feel the kink community is both too lenient, and too crushingly brutal about this simultaneously, and I wish I knew how to reconcile it all and answer it too, especially as an event organiser, who’s made my own mistakes (both in that capacity, and individually) in various ways too.

Either way, this should be more visible, and I want more people to see this. Especially everyone else out to run stuff. Some of us end up in that situation out of necessity, and having something, anything, visible to help teach us how to handle shitty situations better is so important. It’s something I didn’t have and I wish I did.

I don’t have any answers either though I tend to think that discussing the question is part of it

Me neither (not having any answers).  Figuring out a way to get the concoms and community leaders together to talk about it – not to develop Official Rules but to at least brainstorm for some better ideas than what we have now – would probably be a great first step.

The central tenet I live by:

You have a right to a second chance to not make that mistake.

Everyone else has a right to know you did it once and to decide whether or not they want to be your second chance.

The unfortunate consequence of this is that there may be some who aren’t given second chances.

How about this:

Do what’s necessary for the victim to be safe. Period. If that means their attacker can’t be let back in? OK. They eventually can? OK. Some parts of the community but not others? OK. Point is, ALL that matters is the safety of the victim.

“What about the poor person who sexually assaulted someone” is such a bullshit question to even ask.